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Archdiocese appoints rector at Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Visitors gather at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December 2013. A new rector was appointed to the shrine Saturday. | Sun-Times File Photo

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich has announced the appointment of a new rector at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in northwest suburban Des Plaines.

The Rev. Esequiel Sanchez will serve as rector for the shrine, which sees thousands of pilgrims each year for the Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the archdiocese announced Saturday in a statement.

Sanchez replaces the Rev. Marco A. Mercado after the former rector was removed in October because of his “inappropriate relationship with a man,” the archdiocese said at the time.

Sanchez was most recently a priest at St. Bede the Venerable Parish in Chicago, where he has served since 2011, according to the statement. He was born in Chicago to Mexican immigrants and was ordained in 1995.

“The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe enjoys a special significance not only for the Mexican people, but for all of us in the Archdiocese of Chicago,” Cupich said in the statement. “It is a holy place with a vibrant future and I know that Father Sanchez will continue to enhance and grow its mission of worship and inspiration.”

As director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics between 1998 and 2004, Sanchez organized the first Noche de Gala in 1999 to recognize leaders in Hispanic Ministry, according to the statement. He also served on the late Cardinal Francis George’s Administrative Council, the Archdiocesan Presbyterial Council and was a member and vice chair of the Archdiocesan Priest Placement Board.